The M1 Garand was the first semi-automatic rifle to be put in active military service. It weighed 9 pounds 8 ounces unloaded, and was 43.5 inches long. Simple in construction and easy to maintain, the rifle fired a standard clip of eight rounds. It was originally chambered for the .276 Pedersen cartridge using a 10 round clip, but was later standardized to use the then official U.S. military rifle round: "Ball Cartridge, caliber 30, Model of 1906," commonly known as the .30-'06 ("thirty-ought-six").
It was developed by weapons designer John Garand in the 1930s. Eventually, it became the standard long arm of the US Army, entering service in 1936. It served through World War II and the Korean War where it proved to be an excellent weapon to the point where the Axis Powers used as many as they could capture. Some were still being used in the Vietnam War in 1963, although it was officially superseded by the M14 rifle in 1957.
Loaded 8 round en-bloc clips.
It did have its drawbacks, particularly the intracacies of the clip feeding system it used. The magazine held 8 rounds which were loaded by inserting an "en bloc" clip down into the rifle from the top while the bolt was locked back. In the magazine there was a spring and a follower which kept constant upward pressure on the rounds so the bolt could strip the next round from the clip and chamber it during firing. When the last round was fired, the empty clip would be automatically ejected, producing a loud, high-pitched "ping" sound; although this generally could not be heard over the din of battle despite the commonly-heard myth to the contrary.
It was possible to load single rounds into a partially filled clip while it was still in the magazine, although it required both hands and a bit of concentration. Partially filled or fully filled clips could also be ejected by the operator by pulling the operating rod handle all the way back and then pushing the clip latch on the left side of the receiver. Despite its intracacies, the clip fed, semi-automatic, gas-operated system of the M1 Garand was much more advantageous than the manually operated bolt action systems used on the main battle rifles of nearly every other country.
Perhaps the distinct edge it gave the Allied forces over their enemy in battle is why General George S. Patton called it "the greatest implement of battle ever devised." The rifle remains popular with civilian weapons collectors and enthusiasts all over the world.
United States citizens meeting certain qualifications may purchase U.S. Military surplus M1 Garand rifles through the U.S. Army's Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP).
See also: weapon